Recommended screen time limit
Nowadays kids extensively use smartphones, and it’s the source of worries for their parents. One of the most common question is “should parents limit screen time?” There is no unanimity of opinions on this issue among the parents but most likely, the answer is “yes”. Self-discipline isn’t among children’s strengths; it’s very difficult for them to break away from an exciting game, even if they have already spent a lot of time playing it.
Well, for how long can kids play video games without harm? And, what’s even more important — how much screen time is too much? Experts from American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have worked out the following screen time recommendations:
- If your child is under 18 months, video-chatting will be ok for the kid, but try to avoid using other screen media. For children from 18 to 24 months old, people can introduce other digital media, but choose quality ones. Also, don’t leave your child alone in front of the screen: help your kid understand what he or she is seeing;
- Children from 2 to 5 years of age should spend at the screen no more than 1 hour per day; only high-quality programs should be used. Parents are advised to view media with their children, because they are still unable to fully understand what they are seeing;
- If your child is 6 and older, limit the time he or she spends on using media, as well as the types of the media. Make sure your kid gets enough sleep and physical activity, and other activities essential for a child;
- Choose media-free time and spend it together: e.g. introduce rules such as no smartphones during dinner/in a car etc. Also, set media-free places at home, e.g. bedroom and/or bathroom;
- Don’t forget to speak with your kid about such important things as online safety, digital etiquette, zero tolerance to online bullying, etc.
Too much screen time symptoms
Of course, you must also take into consideration the individual characteristics of your child and pay attention to possible negative effects of screen time. How to tell that your kid is having too much screen time — symptoms:
- Pain in the neck/shoulder;
- Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes;
- Poor concentration;
- Poor behavior;
Tips for parents to organize healthy use of media
So, how to avoid negative consequences of over-using various mobile devices? Here are some tips on how to better organize safe use of media in a family:
- Create a schedule for using media in your family. Digital content should help you educate your kids, because if used properly and wisely, it can add diversity to your everyday life. But this shouldn’t be done at the price of more traditional activities (live communication, outdoor games, exercising, family gatherings, and the like);
- Think of your child’s interaction with virtual world as a kind of his or her pastime. In the virtual and real environment, the same principles of leadership and education apply. Know your children’s friends, both online and offline. Find out what platforms and applications your children use, what sites they visit and what they do on these sites. Try not only to follow your children’s online activities, but also to communicate with them about things they are interested in, so that you could better understand your kids;
- Set the limits: as we mentioned above, children need certain restrictions. Like all other activities, use of media should be reasonably restricted;
- The child shouldn’t always browse the Web or play games alone. Watching something together with your children or playing games encourages social interaction;
- Be a good role model for your kid. As children try to imitate adults, limit your own use of digital devices (at least when children see you);
- Create digital-free zones at home. Family meals, other family activities and social events, children’s bedrooms should be free from modern multimedia. Turn off the TV if you aren’t watching it, because background sounds can hamper your communication with children. Charge the devices at night outside the children’s rooms, so that the child can resist the temptation to use them when he needs to sleep;
- Do not use media to pacify the child. The virtual world may seem an effective means to keep children quiet and calm. But it shouldn’t be the only way to calm them down. Children need to be taught to identify strong emotions and cope with them;
- Use really high-quality educational applications. Although searching for such apps may take some time, but the result is worth the effort.
Well, what are the benefits of limiting screen time?
Applying parental control and restricting use of media results in better sleep, reduced body mass index, and improved performance at school. In addition to various restrictions, parents should talk to their children about the culture and rules of behavior in the Web, particularly about the threats a child may face online (cyberbullying, sexting and privacy violation) and how to avoid them.
Using specific apps to limit screen time
All of the above methods of control are good but only when parents are nearby. But what if children are left alone with digital devices? How to limit screen time on Android, iPhone or iPad? After all, kids rarely can resist the temptation to launch a favorite game or start chatting with friends, instead of doing their homework. In this case, parents can apply screen time lock apps.
What to look for when choosing this type of software? What features are must-have for such a program?
Obviously, you should be able to set certain daily screen time limit of the device use. But this limitation isn’t very flexible.
It would be much more convenient to additionally set a device lock at a certain time interval (bedtime or homework time), regardless of whether the daily limit has been reached or not. Children must understand that there is time for games and entertainment, and there is time when they should study, sleep, and do other necessary things.
If a kid spends much time playing or chatting online without interruption, he or she has a risk of getting vision problems. It happens not due to the poor quality of modern screens: vision problems appear because a kid “forgets to blink”, being carried away by something happening on the screen. It leads to eye irritation. It happens not only to children, but also adults. To minimize possible damage to vision, there is a screen lock function in many apps to control screen time (for example, the app is blocked for 5 minutes every hour).
It is also important that the application be protected from attempts to circumvent the restrictions. Children eagerly cheat; also, if something is forbidden, they always want to get it. It is a part of human nature. You must be sure that the restraints you have set work as they should.
In order to limit screen time on Android we recommend using iKeyMonitor application. This is not just an app to limit time on Android or iPhone, but an app that tracks phone usage totally. More information about all the features of this application can be found in our iKeyMonitor review.